Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"anvil! the story of anvil" documentary review

i missed the limited screening of "anvil! the story of anvil" last spring and planned on waiting until the dvd release to see it. then, to celebrate the release, vh1 premiered "anvil" on saturday night! it was "must watch" t.v. for me - and i wasn't disappointed. i'm not into heavy metal, but this documentary of the proto-heavy metal band, anvil, was incredible. it's probably one of the best rock movies i've seen (along with "joe strummer: the future is unwritten") - period!

it chronicled the improbable 30 year history of two canadian musicians who, through what seemed like sheer optimism, managed to keep a rock band together. remarkably, anvil has released 13 albums to date and continues to tour. the european tour documented in the film had a "national lampoon's european vacation" meets "this is spinal tap" feel to it. even so, while laughing at the series of never ending travails that beset them, you never laugh at them.

in fact, i admired them - and their unquenchable determination to keep making music regardless of the odds stacked against them (such as a german club where the management refused to pay the group after the concert and a road manager who couldn't get the simplest thing right)! as they struggle to get from on gig to the next, it's all about performing - and they seem genuinely glad to be there (on the road)!

robb reiner (drummer) and steve ludow (vocals and guitar) are the nucleus to the band. ludow (stage name, "lipps") is the more animated and frenetic of the duo. he's so emotional invested in every scene of the film that i couldn't help fear he would collapse from sheer exhaustion mid-way through! at first, as i watched, i couldn't help but wonder who would be interested in the story of this obscure heavy metal band?

i even wondered if the entire documentary wasn't an elaborate put on - an updated version of "spinal tap." but the guys were definitely real, they held real jobs, and had real families. as they continued to pursue the rock star dream they had to manage ordinary lives! not only did i become more immersed in their world (and picked up that they once did have modest fame and did influence other heavy metal bands), but i started to sympathize with them - and their prospects.

even when they traveled to england to produce their 13th album, they learn that there's no money to distribute and promote it! luckily, steve's older sister came through and decided to loan them the money to get out the album. and then, seemingly miraculously, anvil got a paying gig across the globe - in japan - to finish on a high note! even with the quasi-mockumentary halo over the film, you can't help but root for their success!

get hold of this film, crank the volume knob up to eleven, and enjoy!!

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